June 08, 2006 GMT
I go to the Baņos

Going to Ecuador doesn't mean a mandatory trip to the Baņos. Now I know what you're thinking: a trip to the baņos is necessary everyday, no matter where you are. But I am talking about a different kind of Baņos. This trip takes you to the town officially known as Baņos de Santa Aguas, after the healing hot springs nearby. This is selfsame Tropical-Banff-with-No-Rules town that bills itself 'the Gateway to the Amazon'. Tour companies rule.

Perched within a deep river canyon on a shelf of land between the Rio Pastaza and the sometimes active volcano Tungurahua, Baņos means living life a bit on the edge. In 1999, Baņos had to be evacuated because Tungurahua, only 8 km distant, started venting big steam and ash. Since then things have returned to normal, normal meaning river rafting. volcano climbing, rappeling down waterfalls (huh?), hiking, biking, quading, dirtbiking or just plain drinking your face off in one of the zillion pubs/restaurants in town. No rules means cruising around town on your rented quad with your hair wafting in the wind. The Ozzies love it.

Banos_quads_4_rent19.JPG

Bloody hell! Another parade? OK drop what I'm doing, which is usually not too demanding, and find a place on the sidewalk to see what's happening this time. What are these clowns up to now? Oh, they are clowns. Now if they were just handing out cervezas...

Banos_parade19.JPG

A bunch of us decide to ride bicycles down to the Rio Verde. It takes a half day of mostly coasting and sightseeing to get to the little town of Rio Verde.

biking_to_Rio_Verde19.JPG

Rio_Verde_hanging_bridge19.JPG

After a round of thirst quencing cervezas, a toy Toyota truck takes us back uphill to Baņos. Cost per passenger, and we all chose to ride in the back, is $1.50 per hombre.

One of the things popular in Ecuador, don't ask me why, is barbequed guinea pig. Cuy as it's known around these parts, is bred for the spit. A closer look shows the cuys all have the same frozen scream on their faces. Maybe having a spit stuck up your butt about the same time you realize YOU are lunch....

BBQ_cuys20.JPG

It takes four cervezas grande to help wash down the lunchtime grease. We all take a quarter although with five of us it is funny no one chose the amputated head. The cannibals, left to right are: Brian (UK), Simon Blackburn (UK & now USA), Shauna and Dave Taylor (Australia). Later that evening we wash the aftertaste down with another round or two. It is comforting to note there are lots of stray dog packs around town. Not that having dozens of dogs barking all night is great, but the silver lining is they haven't caught on as a "delicacy".

Cuy_Brian_Simon_Shauna_David19.JPG

On a dark note, days after leaving Baņos, I talk to a man (Dave) about my age from Manchester UK. He is in Quito Ecuador trying to encourage officials to bring to justice the person/persons who murdered his wife in Baņos. She was on a 3 month tour around South America and Baņos was her last stop before flying to Quito and home. That was in January. Dave and his 22 year old son are getting help from the British Embassy but Dave reports the corruption and incompetence of local authorities initially slowed the investigation. After getting a change of jurisdiction, Dave thinks the good guy authorities now have the guy who did it and he is hoping they will get a confession. I saw a photo of his wife, Jen, on a Missing Persons bulletin the day before. Nice looking woman about 50. Professional nurse just doing something she always wanted to do. What a shame. So 99% of the time things go fine here in S.A., but that other 1% is true tragedy. This is one story that isn't urban myth.

Since I'm at the Gateway to the Amazon, me and Katie take a day tour down the canyon of the Rio Pastaza to Puyo, the town at the beginnings of the Amazon Basin. The surroundings are certainly jungle like. Everything looks impossibly green and tropical but not the hanging vines-and-snakes image I had in mind (watched too many Tarzan movies maybe). Still it is high 20's C and high humidity. While I ride it rains some but they are big warm drops. From my moving viewpoint I see the locals are growing bananas, sweet potatoes, maize, tomatoes, oranges, orchids, whatever they want. Long narrow greenhouses, high on the mountain slopes, align downhill at the same angle as the fall line. Strange. In Puyo, I see lots of one-man saw mills making orange crates out of beautiful hardwood (must be the easiest trees to find, I guess).

Puyo_sign_de_Amazonica19.JPG

Rio_Pastaza19.JPG

Katie and I explore to about 15 km out of town on a lovely little dirt road and came across this brand new restaurant in the middle of nowhere. Has only a roof, no walls except for the kitchen. Time for lunch and there are big black cumulus building close by, so we swing in. From my table (winecolored table cloth with sheet of glass on top - very fancy, and white plastic lawn chair) I can see jungle in three directions. Rain cloud too, of course. Lunch is a bowl of freshly-dead-chicken soup and a 10 year old bottle of Coca Cola, US$2.00. When the rain storm moves on, so do we.

Amazon_openair_restaurant19.JPG


Posted by Murray Castle at June 08, 2006 02:21 AM GMT
 



HU DVD Spring Special!

Buy the Achievable Dream Collectors Set and get Road Heroes Part 1 FREE!

Achievable Dream - The Whole Enchilada!

Cooped up indoors in crap weather? Binge watch over 20 hours of inspiring, informative and entertaining stories and tips from 150 travellers! Check it out at the HU Store! Remember to order them both and use Coupon Code 'BoxSet+' on your order when you checkout.


What others say about HU...

"I just wanted to say thanks for doing this and sharing so much with the rest of us." Dave, USA

"Your website is a mecca of valuable information and the DVD series is informative, entertaining, and inspiring! The new look of the website is very impressive, updated and catchy. Thank you so very much!" Jennifer, Canada

"...Great site. Keep up the good work." Murray and Carmen, Australia

"We just finished a 7 month 22,000+ mile scouting trip from Alaska to the bottom of Chile and I can't tell you how many times we referred to your site for help. From how to adjust your valves, to where to stay in the back country of Peru. Horizons Unlimited was a key player in our success. Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world are in debt to your services." Alaska Riders


contest pic

10th Annual HU Travellers Photo Contest is on now! This is an opportunity for YOU to show us your best photos and win prizes!

NEW! HU 2014 Adventure Travel T-shirts! are now available in several colors! Be the first kid on your block to have them! New lower prices on synths!

HU 2014 T-shirts now in!

Check out the new Gildan Performance cotton-feel t-shirt - 100% poly, feels like soft cotton!


What turns you on to motorcycle travel?


Global Rescue, WORLDwide evacuation services for EVERYONE

Global Rescue is the premier provider of medical, security and evacuation services worldwide and is the only company that will come to you, wherever you are, and evacuate you to your home hospital of choice. Additionally, Global Rescue places no restrictions on country of citizenship - all nationalities are eligible to sign-up!




New to Horizons Unlimited?

New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!

Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80 G/S motorcycle.

Susan and Grant Johnson Read more about Grant & Susan's story

Membership - help keep us going!

Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.

You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.



Books & DVDs

amazon

All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.


Motorcycle Express for shipping and insurance!

Motorcycle Express

MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!



Story and photos copyright ©

Sorry, you need a Javascript enabled browser to get the email address and dates. You can contact Horizons Unlimited at the link below. Please be sure to tell us WHICH blog writer you wish to contact.

All Rights Reserved.

Contact the author:

Editors note: We accept no responsibility for any of the above information in any way whatsoever. You are reminded to do your own research. Any commentary is strictly a personal opinion of the person supplying the information and is not to be construed as an endorsement of any kind.

Hosted by: Horizons Unlimited, the motorcycle travellers' website!
You can have your story here too - click for details!